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Between the Seas - A Festival of Performing Arts from the Mediterranean

Rachel Erdos and Lior Shneior Dance

by Victoria Dombroski

August 31 , 2011 -- The Wild Project, New York, NY

Between the Seas, created and presented by Artistic Director Aktina Stathaki, is a new six day festival encompassing many facets directed towards exploring Mediterranean life. This amalgamation of concepts on a broad level included identity, history, culture, social views, values, and customs. With the creation of art and on this day of the festival, the choreography of Rachel Erdos and Lior Shneior, it allowed these ideas to be consolidated, and the emotions and perceptions of the world around them to be more indicatively expressed as an individual coming from this part of the world. The interpretation, and therefor the execution of movement from these artists allowed the audience to feel entwined with the culture of the mediterranean and connect in a global sentiment.

The first piece, entitled Inside it’s Raining, was choreographed by Rachel Erdos to the music of Alberto Shwartz. Dancers Gil Kerer, Ori Lenkinski, and Anat Maron performed with a refreshing intensity that had the viewers extremely engaged from beginning to end. They were presented as three individuals, confined exclusively to the space of a room, four walls and nothing else. They had no choice but to assimilate each others’ frustrations as if they were their own. This quality of absorption was effortlessly portrayed, as there was a continuous flow of partnering between the three dancers. The women would one at a time throw themselves at the man, almost with a sense of flight, as he caught them with such an organic quality. There was a sense of anticipation and surprise as the partnering progressed; sometimes the catch would be strong and static, leaving you with a solid shape to behold for a moment before the dancer would rolled to the ground, whereas other times the moment would pass naturally as if it was dew rolling off a leaf on a spring morning. Being that it was two women in this room with one man, there was a perpetual tension and jockey for power that rebounded from one person to the next. Solo’s of frustration and irritation were going on simultaneously, displaying movements of suspension in lunges or arches with the back and arms, ending in a roll to the ground or catch unexpectedly by another dancer. A specifically repeated movement, sometimes shown in slow motion or with a sped up hint of violence, was a punching motion into their opposite palm. There was a sense of care and bittersweet love amongst the individuals, as they would catch each other at certain times, and let them fall at others. The energy was beautifully sustained and lead into a controlled descend. Quiet moments brought the energy down calmly, comparably to a pinball machine; the energy stays intense as long as it can, until the rebounding settles back and forth into a steady regression. The piece concludes with the three individuals pecking each other or their own selves with kisses, until they collapse simultaneously with the lights.

The first piece performed by Lior Shneior entitled DoYouDoYouDoYou was danced to music by the Bendaly Family. It began with him sitting center stage in a long quilt dress with his back to the audience, with interesting shadows on the back wall making it appear as if there were two more of him. As the lyrics in the music sang out “do you love me, do you need me, do you want me” simplistic gestures and movements were made. Movements such as hands gesturing in towards the heart, over the head and down to the heart again with a body wave from head to hips. In fact they were so simplistic, it made you feel almost hesitant and questioning in the first sequences of the dance. It was at first unclear whether this was suppose to be comical or not. Alas, the moment of anticipation breaks when he runs to the corner to exit, and turns around with a cheeky, flirtatious smile, more so in the eyes than the lips. Filling the audience with soft laughter and lightheartedness, it was a piece that reminded us to not take life so seriously all the time.

Lior’s second piece of work, danced by Jenna Simon and Luis Gabriel Zaragoza, was entitled Drang and danced to “Sensemaya” by Silverstre Revuiltas. This piece somewhat vaguely portray ed a princess with a monster like figure. Perhaps this was a monster of her sub-conscious, or a creature in a medieval tale. The overall theme of this piece can very well be summed up in the word “distress.” The princess is dragged around, executing lunges and leg extensions fanning right and left, as this monster controls her. It is as if she cannot escape him as he catches her and rebounds her in partnering movements. At one moment, it looks as if she will completely fall sideways as she stays facing front, but the monster catches her. There are many acrobatic moments of walkovers and cartwheels from the creature that gives it a circus like sense as well. As the princess makes diving, snake-like movements into the ground, the feeling of the need for escape permeates the room. The monster once again thrusts the princess to the ground, and raises his hands in victory while in a deep lunge as the lights black out.

The final piece, Sea Songs, was danced by Cristin Cawley, Giovanna Gamna, Kate Kelley, Jenna Simon, and Lior Shneior. The piece begins with a man holding a net made of rope, with a white mermaid or sea creature sitting center stage. Three other sea creatures in black dresses interact with gentle partnering, mimicking of movements, and controlled lunges. A beautiful moment occurs when two of the dancers in black stand back to back as the third runs to cover the man’s ears. After a moment of stillness the others lead her away. The white creature runs using her whole body, arms and legs until she stops solid in front of the audience. She stands and begins various movements of barrel turns, leg extensions front and arabesques. She gives gestures from her heart extending outward, giving and giving. The long headdress she wore seemed to extend into a tail, making a sound comparable to wind or waves allowing the audience to feel a sentiment of water and nature. The music sporadically was interrupted with words including mountains, cities, steamships, grass skirts, and canyons. The man with the net reenters and she climbs on his shoulders looking up to the sky. After climbing down, she carefully places the net over him as he lays on the ground, and exits. He escapes the net and makes a gesture with his fist and chest, as when one is coughing and clearing their throat. He moves his arms and hands as if they are sifting through water, and periodically drops to the floor and rises again, gesturing to the net and swaying back and forth with his upper body as to signify a slow defeat. One of the sea creatures in black comes out to embrace him and help lift him from the floor, following with the same actions from the other dancers in black. As the dancers make small, rapid steps with the balls of their feet along the back, they proceed into a line holding hands and running a circle around the entirety of the stage until they fall in unison. Once again this man is laid into the net, and the sea creatures in black emit a feeling of regret and forlornness. Giovanna Gamna particularly portrayed such emotion that one felt as if she was shivering with remorse as she exits and the white sea creature drags the man inside the net off stage.

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